Thursday, February 24, 2011


I still often feel like an alien in America. Nearly half my current life span was spent either working  on yachts at sea,  or on tiny islands in the Caribbean.

Last June, when my motorhome brake caliper seized up, sending off the fire alarms, I thought like a seasoned sailor. I grabbed the puppy, a bottle of water and my passport.

Can you imagine if my motorhome had really burned up?  There I would be on the side of the road, hitchhiking with puppy and a passport. More than likely, I would have hitched towards the nearest seafaring port, looking for a  crew position aboard something headed back to the Caribbean, or perhaps parts unknown.

E.T. phone home!  Some days, I feel like I belong somewhere else. 

Luckily, there was no fire, I stopped in time, got help, so I was spared the ordeal. Thank goodness. My home burned down to the ground in 1976, surely it couldn't happen twice in a lifetime?

I remember the Highway Patrolman staring at me oddly.  I had no pockets in my dress, so my passport was stuck in my bra, but the blue cover was conspicuously peeking out of the top of my dress.  I'm sure he had no idea what THAT was about.  You would have to be an intrepid traveler to get it.

I keep forgetting I am in America, land of plenty, land of excess, land of human herds. 

I feel like I am constantly being pushed to follow or lead but heavily discouraged from beating my own drum. But off I go, merrily following the rhythm of a drummer, that apparently, only I can hear, way off key, down a path that isn't really a path at all, just wilderness, yet to be explored.

Awhile back, a friend, who also spent decades on boats in far flung ports, joined me on a camping journey. We knew the first campground we had chosen was over 30 miles from a grocery store. To a couple of slow sailboat sailors, that's a pretty fair distance. 

I know, laugh!  It sounds so absurd!

We both love fresh produce and real cheeses.  Maybe we overdid it, when we went shopping, as if the stores may run out of inventory before we could return. 

Two islanders.  Clueless.

I am an experienced charter yacht chef. I know how to take a tiny refrigerator and pack it full of fresh foods. Where other's say "Can't be done", I say "Oh I probably can and will."

So while my friend and I were happily tossing in veggies, fruits, cheeses and a minuscule token amount of meat into the shopping cart, he remarked, "Where are you going to put all this stuff?  We better get a cooler for the overflow."

I assured him it would all fit in my little motorhome refrigerator.

When we got back to the RV, I showed him where the few cans and boxes we bought would go, letting him put those away, while I filled up the refrigerator. I also tossed a woven basket at him, to top up with potatoes and onions plus another for fruits that didn't need to be refrigerated.

He kept shaking his head, murmuring "We really need to get a cooler for the extra food."

A few minutes later, I said "Tada!"  closing the refrigerator and putting away the empty plastic grocery bags, to be recycled as garbage bags.

"See?  It all fit in the refrigerator!"

Indeed it did.  I even took a picture, because it was the first time my little refrigerator had resembled a small grocery store. My traveling friend, loves to eat, I like to cook, so needless to say, we ate very well.  Nearly every fruit and veggie in the produce department is represented here along with an assortment of cheeses, a few meats and assorted condiments. There was even room for regular milk, soy milk and the iced tea pitcher.

It pays to measure. 

In the picture, there are three rectangular plastic baskets. I found these super cheap in a bargain store months ago. The measurements indicated they would fit on 3 of my refrigerator shelves.  I shop with a tape measure, pen and paper. When I'm organized, which is mostly.  

More or less.

As you can readily see, these baskets, help stash a lot more foods.  Also, when you open the fridge after bouncing down a potholed road, there is less, to likely fall on the toes.

I've learned to carefully open the refrigerator, very slowly, after a rough trip, with my tootsies out of the way of potential falling objects.

In the Caribbean, the fresh foods can vary widely. A few charter yacht chefs can sometimes clean out the entire produce section of a store. So I was accustomed to stocking up when the foods are in, for fear that next time you shop, they might be gone.  On a little island, you might wait days or weeks, for the boat to come in again, bearing fresh goods.

In America, I keep forgetting, it's land of the plenty.  The grocery stores are always full it seems. Of course, I am also sadly dismayed, that about 80% of most grocery stores are devoted to what I call junk foods. Stuff with virtually no redeeming nutritional value, or stuffed full of chemicals and a variety of sugars.  Some are outright fakes. What is "Non Dairy" creamer?  Why are there so many "imitation" foods like imitation bacon bits or imitation vanilla extract?

Researching imitation vanilla, I found interesting information. One chef claimed imitation vanilla is a byproduct of the paper industry or is derived from coal tar.   Another claimed imitation vanilla is manufactured either from clove oil (eugenol) or as a breakdown product of lignin from a conifer (e.g., spruce, Picea).

Small wonder so many people are on numerous drugs to get well, their bodies are starving for serious good old fashioned nutrition.

It's so hard to find good healthy foods.  Even the produce, may have chemicals if it's not organic.  Washing may remove some but maybe not all of the chemicals.  The more labels I read, the less I buy.  Sure, I have my cravings and sometimes just throw something in the cart without reading the label because I simply want it. But that is becoming rarer. 

Recently, while shopping, I heard a woman talking to herself in the produce department.  "What?  Bell peppers on sale?  Yippee!  Blueberries?  A dollar off?  I'll have two packages!"  I immediately felt a kindred spirit, I almost wanted to go over and introduce myself.

But hey, all those bad foods full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup, well, this deteriorates good health, keeping all the big drug companies making loads of money.  

I just don't want to support the drug pushers. Give me herbs, give me fruits, give me veggies, but keep your chemicals and crap out of my body.

That is so much easier said than done!  

But I am happy, my healthy eating style has drastically improved my own health. My body may refuse to give up one ounce of fat, but everyday I feel stronger.  I just have to walk the dog faster and longer, more often.

Like I might just survive. What a thought!  

It's my goal to make liars out of my past doctors.  They predicted such gloom and doom for me. I may be saddled with a nasty bank and high payments to cover my old medical debts, but hey, I'm alive. And I'm paying dearly for that.

Well, as part of my healthy lifestyle, it's time to go for a walk. Many times I would love to talk myself out of walking, saying I have so many other things I seriously need to do. But then there is puppy, he needs his walks, and so do I.

I think about all the time wasted in hospitals and waiting on doctors.  I'd rather spend that time walking  in the present, than later, being at the mercy of the medical community and the drug pushers. 

I used to think drug pushers were those shady characters on dark corners, now they're brazen corporations.  

Heaven help me. 

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  1. Why did you come back to the U.S? Isn't health care less expensive in the Caribbean in some places? Did you have health insurance for the U.S. at all?

    When you are better is it your plan to return to the Caribbean? I saw a hospital in Grenada and it was questionable (this was quite some time ago). Just wondering about your thoughts on returning to the U.S.

    About veggies, when we were fulltime RVing I found fresh vegetables to be hard to find a lot of the time especially those we are used to up here in the great white north. Consequently we ate a lot of canned veggies. I know they're bad for you. Now that we're back home, we rarely have canned veggies anymore. Just when I'm lazy!

  2. Not sure why I came back to the USA, seemed like a good idea at the time, but I was on a ton of hospital drugs and very weak when I made the decision. Yes, some health care is less expensive in the Caribbean, particularly medications are far cheaper than America, yet it's the identical drug, sold by an overseas company for far cheaper than American's are charged in America.

    It's impossible to live in one country and have medical insurance in another country, without maintaining a home in the other country as well.

    Back in the early 1980's I was working fulltime but doing chemotherapy. Our group insurance cancelled the entire policy so they could get rid of my costs. After that, we couldn't find a policy that would cover me. I'm not sure what's the use of having insurance, if they can cancel you on a whim.

    Also, I don't like the way USA insurance companies now operate these days. Some non-doctor in a cubicle somewhere is directing YOUR medical care! I find that ludicrous.

    I am very homesick for the Caribbean. I don't know when I will get back there. It's much pricier than America for most basics, and hard to settle into, but the slower lifestyle definitely suited me. I loved the small town friendliness of the little islands.

    However, I am enjoying America, especially traveling, though I still feel like an immigrant, trying to catch up to speed. I hate it the way everyone is in such a big darn rush. It's as if folks can't wait to kill themselves with stress.

    There is a class system in America, I am not fond of. Living simply doesn't mean one is of lesser IQ nor less worthy. But it seems many (but certainly not all) folks in America like to flaunt their wealth and snob those who don't.

    I think new cars and the ridiculous payments on them are hugely over rated.


Life is goof!